CARDINAL NEWMAN’S COURSE
Guardian, 13th August 1890.
The long life is closed. And men, according to their knowledge and intelligence, turn to seek for some governing idea or aspect of things, by which to interpret the movements and changes of a course which, in spite of its great changes, is felt at bottom to have been a uniform and consistent one. For it seems that, at starting, he is at once intolerant, even to harshness, to the Roman Church, and tolerant, though not sympathetic, to the English; then the parts are reversed, and he is intolerant to the English and tolerant to the Roman; and then at last, when he finally anchored in the Roman Church, he is seen as—not tolerant, for that would involve dogmatic points on which he was most jealous, but—sympathetic in all that was of interest to England, and ready to recognise what was good and high in the English Church.
Is not the ultimate key to Newman’s history his keen and profound sense of the life, society, and principles of action presented in the New Testament? To this New Testament life he saw, opposed and in contrast, the ways and assumptions of English life, religious as well as secular. He saw that the organisation of society had been carried, and was still being carried, to great and wonderful perfection; only it was the perfection of a society and way of life adapted to the present world, and having its ends here; only it was as different as anything can be from the picture which the writers of the New Testament, consciously and unconsciously, give of themselves and their friends. Here was a Church, a religion, a “Christian nation,” professing to be identical in spirit